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  1. #1
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    Please help me out of my decision paralysis

    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking for a new bike for riding to work and getting around the city. My commute to work is pretty tame compared to the ones I'm reading about on this forum. My office is about 2 miles away and only takes me about 15 mins. in city traffic. Most of my trips are in the 2 mile range and there are a lot of minor hills that are not too severe for the average bike, but my current raleigh 3-speed just isn't cutting it. I want a bike that is light enough for me to easily get it on the bus bike rack, comfortable enough that I actually ride it and cool enough that I feel ok spending a nice chunk of change on.

    I went to my local bike shop and narrowed it down to two bikes that I like. One is the specialized vita (http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=34180) and the other the allez or dolce (women's version). I liked that the vita was more upright for riding around the city and seemed easier to control, but I also like that the allez was FAST. A couple of days later, my boss, who had just bought a new Felt road bike, dislocated his elbow and broke his other arm when an oncoming car turning left failed to yield for him. yikes. That pretty much scared me into not getting a road bike because the aggressive seating position makes me feel like its harder to break and control.

    So I'm looking at these two bikes and can't really tell the difference other than one has fewer spokes than the other:

    Specialized vita: http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=34180
    Trek 7.5 fx wsd: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...th/fx/75fxwsd/

    The trek is more $$$ and I'm willing to spend that if it's a better value. I'd like to hear your thoughts on these bikes or any other that you would recommend. Here's the criteria in a nutshell:

    *Light: Need to be able to carry this around the subway and put it on bus bike racks
    *Easy to control and brake: cars are stupid
    *Rack friendly: I like having the space to put my groceries and bag on the back
    *Fast: and can handle hills ok
    *Value: willing to pay more for better parts but don't really know which parts are better
    *Price range: up to $800

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Shereen

  2. #2
    2-Cyl, 1/2 HP @ 90 RPM slvoid's Avatar
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    First of all, your boss was injured because someone failed to yield for him, not because he was on a road bike. He could've been on a bmx bike and the same thing would've happened unless he was skilled enough to hop over the car.

    Second, I really think you should give the road bike another shot. The reason is, it's going to be a good 20% lighter than the other bike, it's going to accelerate faster, you'll be able to keep speed faster, it'll be more aerodynamic, which all adds up to you being able to keep up better with traffic. Otherwise, between the vita sport and the fx (the vita sport is more comparable in specs and price to the fx), I'd choose the specialized. The specialized has a lighter frame.

    Along with that, keep in mind that staying safe out there isn't always relying on the other driver to see you, it's about keeping your eyes open and being alert. One interesting statistic is that most people who are killed on bicycles in NYC are regular people. The messengers who are out there every day riding anything from cheap bmx bikes to fixed gear track bikes with no brakes usually aren't the ones who get killed even though they're riding 100x more than everyone else out there, and sometimes a lot crazier too. There's a reason for that.

  3. #3
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    For $800.00 you could afford a fairly nice folder and they will handle good amounts of cargo, are lightweight, and can often be taken on the bus.

    The FX series is nice and I have talked to many folks who are quite happy with theirs and I run an oder 7500 which I am also quite pleased with.

  4. #4
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    An equal comparison would be the Vita and the Trek 7.3. Between these two, it's a toss-up.

    The 7.5 is a higher end bike adding a carbon fork and another gear in the rear. This is still a slightly better bike than the Vita Sport, which seems to be just a Vita with a carbon fork, and a non-shock seatpost.

    My own personal preference tends to be Specialized over Trek, but in this case, I'd go with Trek, for resale value if nothing else.

    Comparing the 7.3 and 7.5... I think the 7.5 is probably "worth" $200 more than the 7.3, but that doesn't mean you'll enjoy it any more. The 7.5 may be a hair lighter, but I don't see it being any faster.

    The only other thing from these brands I might point you towards is the Specialized Globe and Globe City lines.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by iguanafriend View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking for a new bike for riding to work and getting around the city. My commute to work is pretty tame compared to the ones I'm reading about on this forum. My office is about 2 miles away and only takes me about 15 mins. in city traffic. Most of my trips are in the 2 mile range and there are a lot of minor hills that are not too severe for the average bike, but my current raleigh 3-speed just isn't cutting it. I want a bike that is light enough for me to easily get it on the bus bike rack, comfortable enough that I actually ride it and cool enough that I feel ok spending a nice chunk of change on.

    I went to my local bike shop and narrowed it down to two bikes that I like. One is the specialized vita (http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=34180) and the other the allez or dolce (women's version). I liked that the vita was more upright for riding around the city and seemed easier to control, but I also like that the allez was FAST. A couple of days later, my boss, who had just bought a new Felt road bike, dislocated his elbow and broke his other arm when an oncoming car turning left failed to yield for him. yikes. That pretty much scared me into not getting a road bike because the aggressive seating position makes me feel like its harder to break and control.

    So I'm looking at these two bikes and can't really tell the difference other than one has fewer spokes than the other:

    Specialized vita: http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=34180
    Trek 7.5 fx wsd: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...th/fx/75fxwsd/

    The trek is more $$$ and I'm willing to spend that if it's a better value. I'd like to hear your thoughts on these bikes or any other that you would recommend. Here's the criteria in a nutshell:

    *Light: Need to be able to carry this around the subway and put it on bus bike racks
    *Easy to control and brake: cars are stupid
    *Rack friendly: I like having the space to put my groceries and bag on the back
    *Fast: and can handle hills ok
    *Value: willing to pay more for better parts but don't really know which parts are better
    *Price range: up to $800

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Shereen
    [url]http://www.bikesdirect.com/product/motobecane/cafe_noir.htm[URL] This bike would give you everything you'd want in speed, manuverabity and good sight lines w/a flat bar. You could get a rack and truck bag or panniers. Shimano 105 componentry is 3 grades up from entry level. Good bike for the money w/no shipping. You'd have to put it together yourself or have a serious bike geek friend do for 20.00 and a twelve pack. Sizing would be important, but they all come w/700 wheels. Just know your size before ordering. Get some presta 18-23mm tubes, metal tire levers and a Topeak Road Morph w/guage(bikeisland.com...no shipping, check them out for all your add ons), and a good multi tool and a chain tool. SKS Raceblades for fenders are a little pricey, but removeable and worth the money. Bikepartsusa.com usually has them at a fair price w/shipping added.

    Good luck and happy commuting on whatever you decide.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
    An equal comparison would be the Vita and the Trek 7.3. Between these two, it's a toss-up.

    The 7.5 is a higher end bike adding a carbon fork and another gear in the rear. This is still a slightly better bike than the Vita Sport, which seems to be just a Vita with a carbon fork, and a non-shock seatpost.

    My own personal preference tends to be Specialized over Trek, but in this case, I'd go with Trek, for resale value if nothing else.

    Comparing the 7.3 and 7.5... I think the 7.5 is probably "worth" $200 more than the 7.3, but that doesn't mean you'll enjoy it any more. The 7.5 may be a hair lighter, but I don't see it being any faster.

    The only other thing from these brands I might point you towards is the Specialized Globe and Globe City lines.
    Thanks for the thoughts and suggestion. I found a 2008 7.5 on craigslist for $600 so that brings it to the same price as getting the vita new at the bike shop.

    I was just looking at the globe, though, and wondering what the difference other than price is between the globe and the vita or trek. In the end does it boil down to these bikes being mostly the same for similarly priced models? Like, should I assume that I'm getting what I'm paying for and just go for the one that feels best to me?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by nashcommguy View Post
    [url]http://www.bikesdirect.com/product/motobecane/cafe_noir.htm[URL] This bike would give you everything you'd want in speed, manuverabity and good sight lines w/a flat bar. You could get a rack and truck bag or panniers. Shimano 105 componentry is 3 grades up from entry level. Good bike for the money w/no shipping. You'd have to put it together yourself or have a serious bike geek friend do for 20.00 and a twelve pack. Sizing would be important, but they all come w/700 wheels. Just know your size before ordering. Get some presta 18-23mm tubes, metal tire levers and a Topeak Road Morph w/guage(bikeisland.com...no shipping, check them out for all your add ons), and a good multi tool and a chain tool. SKS Raceblades for fenders are a little pricey, but removeable and worth the money. Bikepartsusa.com usually has them at a fair price w/shipping added.

    Good luck and happy commuting on whatever you decide.
    Thanks for the suggestion. This bike seems like a good deal based on what you say but perhaps a little more intense of bike buying experience than I'm ready for. I'm more in the buy it and ride away mode of thinking. Words like shimano and presta are over my head.

  8. #8
    Senior Member mds0725's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iguanafriend View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts and suggestion. I found a 2008 7.5 on craigslist for $600 so that brings it to the same price as getting the vita new at the bike shop.

    I was just looking at the globe, though, and wondering what the difference other than price is between the globe and the vita or trek. In the end does it boil down to these bikes being mostly the same for similarly priced models? Like, should I assume that I'm getting what I'm paying for and just go for the one that feels best to me?

    That was my experience. I was looking at Trek FX 7.2/7.3/7.5 bikes and a Specialized Sirrus. Some people I spoke to preferred the Trek bikes and others preferred Specialized, for various reasons. I ultimately bought the Sirrus because I felt like I was sitting just a bit more forward on that bike (but not as far forward as I would be on a road bike; like you, I wanted to be more upright for riding in traffic) and that made it a more comfortable bike for me.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by iguanafriend View Post
    Thanks for the suggestion. This bike seems like a good deal based on what you say but perhaps a little more intense of bike buying experience than I'm ready for. I'm more in the buy it and ride away mode of thinking. Words like shimano and presta are over my head.
    I agree. Bikes Direct is a perfectly legit business, but their bikes work best for folks who do their own wrenching. (I'm not experienced enough for that, either. )
    "Real wars of words are harder to win. They require thought, insight, precision, articulation, knowledge, and experience. They require the humility to admit when you are wrong. They recognize that the dialectic is not about making us look at you, but about us all looking together for the truth."

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mds0725 View Post
    That was my experience. I was looking at Trek FX 7.2/7.3/7.5 bikes and a Specialized Sirrus. Some people I spoke to preferred the Trek bikes and others preferred Specialized, for various reasons. I ultimately bought the Sirrus because I felt like I was sitting just a bit more forward on that bike (but not as far forward as I would be on a road bike; like you, I wanted to be more upright for riding in traffic) and that made it a more comfortable bike for me.
    I think the vita is the women's version of the sirrus, so I am essentially facing the same choice (except for the occasional dreams of getting a road bike to ride in a triathlon). I think ultimately I'd rather have something I'm more comfortable with in the city because I'll ride it 6 days a week vs. twice a year in races.

    Did you consider the globe at all? I've met a few people at the bike shop who love them.

  11. #11
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    I have on numerous occasions advocated when people are just approaching commuting, especially when they have short commutes, to buy something cheap. I don't mean wal-mart cheap, but there are affordable, totally rideable bikes out there which cost 200-400. Look for a high quality frame at a low price. When you decide you want things like shimano components you will be able to upgrade as you go. More importantly though, you are going to be less afraid to use your bike, and if you do screw something up (like I did) trying to repair it, at least you screwed up something cheap.
    Basically buy something cheap, and upgrade as your skills improve. The K2 Astral 3.0 isn't a bad way to go, its cheap but has a decent frame and plenty of room for improvements. Mainly on a 2 mile commute you are not going to need things like a Carbon Fork, because "road buzz" is not going to effect you over such a short distance in any noticeable manner. http://www.rei.com/product/763988?cm...:referralID=NA

    Good Luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by irabidfish View Post
    I have on numerous occasions advocated when people are just approaching commuting, especially when they have short commutes, to buy something cheap. I don't mean wal-mart cheap, but there are affordable, totally rideable bikes out there which cost 200-400. Look for a high quality frame at a low price. When you decide you want things like shimano components you will be able to upgrade as you go. More importantly though, you are going to be less afraid to use your bike, and if you do screw something up (like I did) trying to repair it, at least you screwed up something cheap.
    Basically buy something cheap, and upgrade as your skills improve. The K2 Astral 3.0 isn't a bad way to go, its cheap but has a decent frame and plenty of room for improvements. Mainly on a 2 mile commute you are not going to need things like a Carbon Fork, because "road buzz" is not going to effect you over such a short distance in any noticeable manner. http://www.rei.com/product/763988?cm...:referralID=NA

    Good Luck.
    That is an excellent thought. The main reason I ended up looking in the price range I am in is because of weight. After having two bikes that I struggled to get up the steps to my house and on the bus rack, I'm willing to pay for something lighter. But if I can get light cheaper then why not do that. Do you know how much the astral weighs? I didn't see it on the website.

    Also, you say to look for a good quality frame. What would indicate that a frame is good quality? aluminum?

    And if anyone else has recommendations of cheaper bikes that are also light, I'd love to hear them. Is there a mainstream brand carried by local bike shops that is comparable to the astral?

  13. #13
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    For what it's worth I commute on an Allez for 3/4 of the year and use a mountain bike during the winter. Typical modern road bikes use shifters that combine braking and shifting into one control which can take a little getting used to but I wouldn't say they're inherently less safe than grip shifters and traditional brake levers (for example).

    If anything what may make the Allez more dangerous is that you might find yourself moving at higher speeds and therefore have less time to react. On the other hand, it's easier to keep pace with traffic on something like an Allez and for me that adds a level of safety.

    The drawback to the Allez would be that it's going to be more difficult to put on full fenders without something like "Reach Arounds" and some fiddling. Also the tires that came on my 2005 Allez aren't exactly flat resistant though I haven't had any problems yet.

    If you do decide on an Allez or any other bike with a short wheel base, stay away from the versions with a triple unless you really need them. The short wheelbase leads to a less than great chainline for triples.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    For what it's worth I commute on an Allez for 3/4 of the year and use a mountain bike during the winter. Typical modern road bikes use shifters that combine braking and shifting into one control which can take a little getting used to but I wouldn't say they're inherently less safe than grip shifters and traditional brake levers (for example).

    If anything what may make the Allez more dangerous is that you might find yourself moving at higher speeds and therefore have less time to react. On the other hand, it's easier to keep pace with traffic on something like an Allez and for me that adds a level of safety.

    The drawback to the Allez would be that it's going to be more difficult to put on full fenders without something like "Reach Arounds" and some fiddling. Also the tires that came on my 2005 Allez aren't exactly flat resistant though I haven't had any problems yet.

    If you do decide on an Allez or any other bike with a short wheel base, stay away from the versions with a triple unless you really need them. The short wheelbase leads to a less than great chainline for triples.
    Thanks for sharing your experience. The allez is such a sleek and fast bike. I rode it in a sprint triathlon and I think being on such a cool bike made me ride even faster. Two problems with the allez for me: one is that I feel like I'm reaching to much so the salesperson recommended the women's version, dolce, but they don't carry this in stock so I'd have to order it. About the brakes--I also think this is related to me being a woman because my small hands have difficulty getting around the brakes to squeeze them.

    I think I will try to find a dolce somewhere else to test drive. And I also want to try the astral recommended in an earlier post. Thanks, everyone, for the invaluable advice. I still am curious if anyone knows of any cheaper bikes (under $500) that are light like the vita, sirrus and trek 7.5.

  15. #15
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iguanafriend View Post
    Thanks for sharing your experience. The allez is such a sleek and fast bike. I rode it in a sprint triathlon and I think being on such a cool bike made me ride even faster. Two problems with the allez for me: one is that I feel like I'm reaching to much so the salesperson recommended the women's version, dolce, but they don't carry this in stock so I'd have to order it. About the brakes--I also think this is related to me being a woman because my small hands have difficulty getting around the brakes to squeeze them.

    I think I will try to find a dolce somewhere else to test drive. And I also want to try the astral recommended in an earlier post. Thanks, everyone, for the invaluable advice. I still am curious if anyone knows of any cheaper bikes (under $500) that are light like the vita, sirrus and trek 7.5.
    Actually one of the reasons I got an Allez is for the couple of triathlons I do a year. You definitely want a bike that fits so by all means skip the Allez if it doesn't. Depending on which version of the Allez you were looking at, it may come with levers that have adjustable reach so they can be made to work better for people with smaller hands. The lowest end Allez uses Sora levers which are among the easiest to adjust. Check with the salesperson.


    Good Luck

  16. #16
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
    Comparing the 7.3 and 7.5... I think the 7.5 is probably "worth" $200 more than the 7.3, but that doesn't mean you'll enjoy it any more. The 7.5 may be a hair lighter, but I don't see it being any faster.
    I think it's faster, and I liked it a lot better (I test-rode both Saturday), but maybe not everyone would notice much of a difference. The carbon forks, the better shifters, better wheels -- it's noticeable, and worth the extra $200 to me (I'm probably going to buy one today). BTW, I also tried the wsd, expecting to like it a lot (I've got a short torso), and I didn't like it one little bit -- but that's an aside.

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    Quote Originally Posted by irabidfish View Post
    I have on numerous occasions advocated when people are just approaching commuting, especially when they have short commutes, to buy something cheap. I don't mean wal-mart cheap, but there are affordable, totally rideable bikes out there which cost 200-400. Look for a high quality frame at a low price. When you decide you want things like shimano components you will be able to upgrade as you go. More importantly though, you are going to be less afraid to use your bike, and if you do screw something up (like I did) trying to repair it, at least you screwed up something cheap.
    Basically buy something cheap, and upgrade as your skills improve. The K2 Astral 3.0 isn't a bad way to go, its cheap but has a decent frame and plenty of room for improvements. Mainly on a 2 mile commute you are not going to need things like a Carbon Fork, because "road buzz" is not going to effect you over such a short distance in any noticeable manner. http://www.rei.com/product/763988?cm...:referralID=NA

    Good Luck.
    This is a valid point.

    Between the three bikes you originally mentioned, I'd get the Allez, and then the Trek 7.5.

  18. #18
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    Where will you be storing the bike when you're at work? If it's going to be sitting outside, all exposed and vulnerable to thieves and weather, I say go with neither of these. Pick up something used and cheap, like a rigid MTB. However, you say your boss is also a cyclist, so that could mean a bike-friendlier workplace, and a way to store your bike indoors.

    Between the two bikes you posted, Trek is definitely higher-end (so the price difference is justified), but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll be a better bike for you. Low spoke count wheels look sexy, but some people say they are not tough enough for anything other than supersmooth pavement. But my boyfriend's Trek 7500FX with such wheels has served him well though, and he is not exactly a featherweight.

    The standard suggestion is always to ride both bikes, and see which one feels better to you. When I was choosing my latest bike, I rejected a lot of promising offers right after a test ride - the geometry was just completely wrong for me.

    Another question - do these bikes come from the same bike shop? If not, I'd compare the bike shops as well - if you get a bad vibe, don't buy a bike there! If nothing else, these guys will be doing your free tune-ups after you get the bike, so buying a bike means establishing a relationship with a store. You don't want a relationship with a store you dislike! (Of course, all of this is less important if you do your own maintenance and tune-ups, but most new riders prefer to opt for bike shop maintenance, at least at first).
    Stomping as lightly as I can...

  19. #19
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iguanafriend View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts and suggestion. I found a 2008 7.5 on craigslist for $600 so that brings it to the same price as getting the vita new at the bike shop.

    I was just looking at the globe, though, and wondering what the difference other than price is between the globe and the vita or trek. In the end does it boil down to these bikes being mostly the same for similarly priced models? Like, should I assume that I'm getting what I'm paying for and just go for the one that feels best to me?
    Yes, that's exactly how you should be looking at it.

    Decide what you're comfortable spending, then pick the bike that feels the best, looks the best, the one sold by the shop you like the best, etc.

    I'm a big fan of used bikes and would be tempted to make an offer on the 7.5 you found.

  20. #20
    Senior Member mds0725's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iguanafriend View Post
    Did you consider the globe at all? I've met a few people at the bike shop who love them.
    I did try the Globe. It provided more of an upright position than the Sirrus and at the bike shops where I saw it, it was described to me as being more of a "comfort" hybrid than a "performance" hybrid. It was a nice bike with nice features and I can see why so many people like it, but I wanted a bike that gave me a slightly more forward position.

    Have you decided yet?

  21. #21
    Mike McCrank
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    Look into the Dahon folders, especially if you plan on doing alot of subway and bus travel with it. They have some pretty decent bikes for commuting.
    Mike McCrank

    2008 Surly 'Darth' Pugsley

    FAT TIRES CRUSH CANCER

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    My most recent bike obsession has been the Gary Fisher Wingra. A friend of mine has one and it seems like just the blend of fast bike and city bike that I want. That being said, I kicked my friend's ass when I took the Allez out for a test run and he rode with me on his Wingra.

    Gary Fisher bikes are difficult to find in my area. I found a dealer who said he would order me one. Obviously, I want to try the bike in my size before ordering it. I also would like to test ride the K2 as suggested earlier on this thread. I haven't yet figured out how to get to REI without a car but I should be able to make my way there somehow when I'm finished with a big project I'm working on.

    So I haven't decided on a bike yet. I've been stalking craigslist religiously to see if anything there catches my eye. I'll keep you all posted!

  23. #23
    Junior Member
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    Today I took a break from studying to run some errands, and while I was out, I stopped by a bike shop I hadn't been to before. I didn't have long but I was able to take the following bike out for a test run:

    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/...men/973/28247/

    It's a 2007 Giant FCR 2 W and on sale because it's an old model. It's $500 which seems like a good deal based on what it normally costs. However, I can't really tell the difference between a $400 bike and a $600 bike other than weight. This one is pretty light; it registered 22 or 23 lbs. on the scale. It was really comfortable and nice to ride. The salesperson said the components are a step up and so are the wheels.

    The only thing I didn't really like was the shifters. They had an orange bar to indicate where you are instead of numbers. They just seemed kind of cheap. Other than that, though, I liked the bike. Do you guys think it's worth $500?

  24. #24
    Senior Member
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    >They had an orange bar to indicate where you are instead of numbers.

    Heh. Who looks at the indicator?

    Steve

  25. #25
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    You haven't bought a bike yet?

    You're overthinking.

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